Alternative Methods in Horsemanship™ - Tina's Tips
Tip #4: “Leading is Riding / Riding is Leading -The Gift of Tellington Work”
For most of my life, the riding and competing plans that our family focused on were about riding lessons. We started out as basic English and Western Pleasure/Equitation competitors, with loads of fun trail riding in between. In the 1970’s, my mom discovered the world of dressage. This was before the launching of the official California Dressage Society, so our lessons were in scattered Bay Area locations and with amazing ‘top gun’ stars and coaches of that industry as it unfolded more in the West Coast.
I was not sure I wanted that layer of learning, yet when I saw the improvements in the results of both my sister and my mom and their horses, I took it on…and did improve my winnings in horseshows, whether in English or Western, and beyond.
As fate would have it, I was severely injured in several successive automobile and riding accidents, and despite my stoic nature and ‘leg on, face forward’ approach to life and riding, I finally had to face up to some hard facts. I came very close to needing to sell all my wonderful horses and take up knitting while seated in a rocking chair…until I read about Linda Tellington-Jones style of training with humanity and ease of physical efforts.
Fortunately, I was able to attend several of her demos in California, and had the opportunity tomeet with her. When she heard my case history, she insisted that “Until you help yourself, you cannot help your horses” Because of her recommendation, I began therapeutic Feldenkrais Method sessions to regain a body that could function.
During the time I had to focus learning Feldenkrais Method for my own healing, I began to study her books and her videos on how to use TTEAM (Tellington Touch Equine Awareness Method) of groundwork and bodywork with my 5 horses, each a different breed, each a different competitor or school horse. As I attempted these new ideas and techniques, I had many revelations about both human and horse structure/functions:
– studying how horses can learn … how ‘education’ may bring better results than simply ‘training’
– learning how I can learn more efficiently to convey information to my horse
– how new ways to lead my horses could change their physical and mental abilities, as well as I was changing mine.
The day came when I was allowed to mount and ride!
My Grand Prix Dressage level sister came to coach me that first day. As I walked and trotted around the arena (with a super big grin of joy!), she was silent…not her style as a teacher at all! I told her “No worries, start coaching my riding style, I must be a mess!” Her answer? “You are riding with an amazing body, better than I’ve ever seen before, and your horse is moving more balanced and happy than I’ve ever seen her do…I have nothing to say!”
How could this be??!! All I had done during this healing time for my body was to focus on changing old broken patterns in my body…the TTEAM work with the horses was my sheer entertainment until I could ride again! Now they were better riding horses (!?), as if a great trainer had been riding them the entire time I’d been grounded!
That is when my epiphany came…the way I lead my horses, any time, anywhere, is the imprint of mind / body function and the efficiency that they carry forward when I mount and ride them…everything matters as it imprints the brain as well as the body patterns!!
Thus my new motto to myself:
“Leading is Riding / Riding is Leading”